Trip To A Certain Kind Of Beach: Journal Conclusion
Out With The Old, In With The New
The trip back is always faster. At least it feels as such. We had dropped Ian off in Newport where his truck had been. The plan originally was that Ian and Ed were going to charter Ian’s boat from Garibaldi to Newport. Large swells made it impossible to leave the bay and the Coast Guard went as far as shutting it down to marine traffic. Both fishermen were downtrodden since they could not accomplish their moniker. Ian planned on spending some time in Newport, I gritted my teeth thinking Ed would second the notion. Relief swept over me as he told me to head back to Portland.
I didn’t have a bad time. I was just uncomfortable. My pain level had been high the past few days and I was on the verge of serious burnout. The drive home could be expected to end quickly, the way back always does. Why is that? I wondered out loud and in a rare occurrence, Ed wasn’t asleep and responded saying it was because everything now looked familiar. Before it had been different and it seems it takes a long time because there is so much to process. Change in scenery. However, on the way back it’s no longer new, it has become familiar ergo not as much to take in. Repetition.
We stopped at a Dairy Queen along the mountain highway to grab some food. There is a general term associated with restaurants like this; Fast Food. But, it’s misleading. All the more so after standing second in line for fifteen minutes. It strikes me as odd. One would assume that this greasy oasis would be more efficient than even inner city establishments. Probability would suggest that the amount of traffic up and down this highway, from the cities to the coast, they would be slammed during at least the peak season. Even so, they moved with the speed of teens who didn’t give a shit. The adults moved at a speed that said apathy and the manager looked like she was on her last limb. We ordered two number sixes.
Eating hurriedly, we were back on the road in no time. Faster than it took to order and get our food at least. As Ed falls back into Nap Mode, I cannot help but think of an event the previous night. I had been out back hiding, in the smoking area. I was typing even faster than my battery meter could drain down. A woman came out and asked why I was on a laptop on a Friday night at a bar. Working, I replied. She found justification in that and nodded. What do you do? I asked. Why? She mysteriously replied. It was then the lighting caught her features, she was beautiful, in a hometown girl way, she looked younger than me, in her twenties for sure, strands of her hair had escaped from her tight knit pigtail braids and they shone as the light passed through them.
I responded that I only asked to be polite, that since she had started the discourse it was my turn to postulate a personal inquiry. Of course, I didn’t say it like that. It was in a more, flirtatious, brooding way, I just can’t remember what it was. We had begun having a conversation, I found she was in nursing school, she went to a community college not far from town, and I could also tell she had changed from the person she was into something new.
I had been becoming enamored with her when a group of people came out that were obviously old or current friends of hers. They made small talk and in between we would continue our much more philosophical discourse. Everyone offered her more drinks, she would decline. That was my first clue. Obviously, like most of us, she had partied with these people and had been known to hold her own. No longer was this the case, she was more reserved. No reason to become so wasted she would witness what a half digested pizza looks like. You could tell it changed the vibe, slightly, but it was there. Opinions were being changed.
Then a prick comes along. Either this guy was so oblivious to her and I talking or a master cock blocker of extraordinary talents. I sat on the far bench of one picnic table, she sat on the closest bench of another. Dickhead sat on the bench between us, right between us, completely cutting me off. I almost said something, I almost said; Hey asshole! We were talking! Do you mind sliding over, C Blocked? Alas, I kept quiet and returned to my work. Occasionally I would glance over at her and think I caught her eye. However, as the hour grew later, I grew tired. I also would pick up tidbits of the conversation, if that’s what you’d call it. Basically, her talking and him agreeing with or justifying everything she said. A real original thought guru.
This was happening a lot to me. I would meet a woman that I really liked and they would have a way of fading or vanishing instantaneous. I always blamed myself, however, it generally had nothing to do with me. It happened to a lot of singles my age. It seemed people liked the chase, but once they caught you they were bored and wanted a new chew toy. For those of us in the trenches, it’s no wonder we have become quirkyalone. It’s better than the alternative. I overheard the woman talking about her schooling and coming home to the bay town. She said disgusted and instantly knew it was the wrong word. She said she was disgusted with herself how different she was, but she knew that disgusted was the wrong word. I watched as her and her friends went back inside. I knew the answer. I would tell her when I finished the last few lines.
Packed up and walking through the bar, I spot the pale skinned beauty by the pool table. I walk up to her with purpose, as if I am going to tell her where the Holy Grail is, I whisper the word she was looking for and the one she really meant.
“Disgusted was the wrong word, the one you were looking for was ‘ashamed’, however, either one is incorrect. The word you should have used is ‘maturity’. Good luck.” As I stepped back to walk away, we locked eyes and she nodded. Has I turn toward the door, she raised her hand and brushed my arm. I walked out the door without looking back.
Now, driving the twists and turns of the forest highway, I sigh heavy from the memory. Suddenly, one of my episodes begins. Imagine a Charlie Horse. Now imagine it on every square inch of muscle in your body. Add barb wire wrapped around them and someone is slowly pulling on it, letting each barb find new purchase, a new trench. My eyes weren’t watering, those were tears. Biting it back and biting my lip, I try to focus on the road through blurry eyes. The last thing I want is to wake up Ed and have him see me in such distress. I believed I hid my illness well, only a few knew and a few more had a notion, but, most had no idea. They assumed I was sore or stiff from some activity. I prefer to keep it as such.
The pain, as always, intensifies then begins to fade. Like a tidal wave, it comes on fast, gains strength, then final breaks and rolls back. My teeth unlock and my hand releases it’s death grip on my jeans. Bone white now from the lack of vital flow. My mind clear, I think back on what Ed had postulated about the trip in being new and then out being old. Out with the old and in with the new. All the same, I had driven this road countless times in the past and should thus know it as old in and old out. Why didn’t I?
Change and time away. My life is in constant change, all of our lives are. It’s daily, even if only a small way, it’s nonetheless, change. That’s why I have a hard time understanding why people fear it. It should be hardwired by now, engraved in the stone archives of our minds. Like the beautiful woman back on the coast, she had grown up there, in old out old, for years. Became complacent. Fit the model created by the group of her friends and became a fixture. However, she was above it in spirit and broke that mold. She left out with the old, lived in a new environment, met new people, learned a new perspective, and most likely some lessons.
When she came back, the trip probably took a long time. Everything was new, seen now from an upgraded outlook, a new point of view. In her interactions with her friends, I could tell they remained the same but she had changed. Change for the better, she was becoming self-reliant, she had matured. Not all the way, I question if anyone ever does, but enough to see that despite the fact she may love them, she no longer truly belonged. In order to move forward, she had to leave them behind. So, when she did become a nurse it would be she is too busy, life would move on. Social Media contacts would replace visits. Eventually, she would make a lucky man happy, perhaps have a family. Those friends would be memories. A past she escaped. A change.
Her road would look new for at least some time. If she’s lucky, the rest of her life. I smiled at the thought. It was rare to meet someone who you could have a real discussion with, even more with a woman I was attracted to. However, besides being ten years her senior, we were on different wooded highways. The trips going each a little faster but still at different points along the road. Out with the new.
© 2016 Adam Stier